Why Is It Important to Cite Your Sources? (7 Key Reasons)

Have you ever read an article or research paper that was so well-written and convincing that you wanted to believe every word of it? Only to find out later that some of the information it contained was inaccurate or, worse, plagiarized? This is exactly why citing sources is so important in any form of writing.

Whether it’s academic writing, such as research papers, essays, and dissertations, or non-academic writing, like news articles, blogs, and opinion pieces, citing sources is essential to maintaining the integrity of the work and ensuring that the information presented is accurate and reliable.

Table of Contents

What Is Citation?

Citation is the process of acknowledging and giving credit to the original sources of information you use in your work. It is an essential component of academic writing that helps establish the credibility of your work and shows that you have done extensive research using reliable sources. 

Proper citation also allows readers to find and verify the sources of your information, which helps build trust and reliability in your work. 

There are several citation styles, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago, and each has its own rules and guidelines for citing different types of sources. 

Have you ever considered what would happen if you forgot to cite your sources? Could you imagine losing credibility and authenticity in your readers’ eyes or facing severe academic consequences? 

To avoid negative repercussions for your work, you need to know the importance of citing sources. Below are the reasons why it is important to cite your sources.

To Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious offense when someone uses another person’s work without giving it proper credit. It is a form of intellectual theft and dishonesty that can have severe consequences in both academic and professional settings. 

Plagiarism can take many forms, and it is crucial to know the different types of plagiarism. The most common forms of plagiarism include:

Direct Plagiarism

This is perhaps the simplest form of plagiarism. It occurs when someone copies and pastes a text from a source without changing or revising it. Direct plagiarism is often easy to detect because the copied text is identical to the original source.


Self-plagiarism occurs when someone submits work they have already submitted for another assignment or context. Even if it is an original paper that belongs to the author, it is considered plagiarism because it is not original to the current assignment.

Paraphrasing Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when someone takes a text from a source and paraphrases it in their own words without crediting the original source. This is a common form of plagiarism and can be challenging to detect because the terms are different, but the idea behind the text still comes from someone else.

Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism occurs when someone takes phrases or sentences from a source and incorporates them into their own work without properly citing them. This type of plagiarism can be more challenging to detect because the text is not copied verbatim, but it is still a form of plagiarism.

Accidental Plagiarism

This type of plagiarism can occur when someone unintentionally uses someone else’s work without properly citing it. This can happen when someone forgets to cite a source or does not realize that it is another person’s work. Even if this is unintentional, it is still considered plagiarism and can have consequences.

Plagiarism can occur in academic, professional, and personal contexts and can have severe consequences for the person who committed the offense. These consequences may be:

  • Academic Consequences: In academia, plagiarism can result in a failing grade on a paper, a failing grade in the course, or even the student’s expulsion from school. Plagiarism can also damage a student’s academic record, affecting future educational and career opportunities.
  • Legal Consequences: In a professional setting, plagiarism can lead to lawsuits and legal action against the person who committed the offense. This can result in fines, legal fees, and damage to reputation.
  • Professional Consequences: Plagiarism can have severe consequences in the professional world, especially in fields where original work is highly valued. These include damage to reputation, loss of employment, and difficulty finding a new job.
  • Personal Consequences: Plagiarism can also have personal consequences, such as loss of trust from friends and family and damage to personal relationships.

To avoid plagiarism, it is important to know the different forms of plagiarism and how to cite sources properly. You must cite any direct quotes or ideas that are not yours. 

Also, be careful when paraphrasing, as this can be a form of plagiarism if not done correctly. When in doubt, it is always better to play it safe and cite the source for any work that is not yours.

To Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Academic writing often involves conducting research that requires an author to incorporate the works of others into their writing. When incorporating another person’s work, it is important to acknowledge the source through citation. 

Citation is a way to acknowledge and honor the work of others while ensuring that readers have access to the original source material. Here are some examples of when to cite sources:

When Directly Quoting a Source

If you use someone else’s exact wording in your text, be sure to enclose it in quotation marks and cite the source. This not only gives credit to the original author but also allows readers to distinguish between your words and those of the quoted author.

When Paraphrasing a Source

To paraphrase means to reproduce someone else’s ideas or words in your own words. Even if you do not use the original text, you must cite the source to avoid plagiarism and credit the original author.

When Summarizing a Source

When summarizing a larger work, such as a book or scientific paper, be sure to cite the original source. This helps readers verify the information you present and gives credit to the original author.

When Using Statistics or Data

When using data or statistics from another source, it is important to cite the source. Not only does this give credit to the original author, but it also allows readers to access the data and verify your findings.

Acknowledging the work of others through citations is important not only to avoid plagiarism but also to give due credit. In this way, the work of others is respected, and the integrity of academic writing is maintained. 

To Build Credibility and Supporting Arguments

Citing sources is an important part of writing because it helps establish the author’s credibility and the information’s reliability. 

For authors to be taken seriously, they must cite credible and trustworthy sources to support their arguments. The reliability of a source can be determined by its accuracy, authority, objectivity, and timeliness, among other factors.

When an author uses citations, the reader can verify the accuracy of the information presented and gain confidence in the author’s expertise. 

By citing reliable sources, the author demonstrates that they have done extensive research, are knowledgeable about the subject, and are not merely stating opinions or personal beliefs. This, in turn, increases the author’s credibility and improves readers’ perception of the quality of the work.

Furthermore, the importance of reliable sources in citations cannot be overstated. Reliable sources are critical to the strength and effectiveness of arguments in written works. 

For example, if an author makes a claim but does not cite a credible source to support it, the reader will likely doubt the claim’s truth. However, if the author provides a credible source, the reader will likely accept the argument as credible and trustworthy.

The importance of using reliable sources and proper citations must be considered to ensure the credibility and quality of a written work. By referencing trustworthy sources to support their arguments, authors can bolster their expertise, build the confidence of their readership, and showcase their commitment to academic integrity. 

To Demonstrate Your Research

Citations are a critical part of the research process because they demonstrate the depth and breadth of the work that has been done and the thoroughness with which it was done. 

By citing relevant sources, researchers show that their work is based on existing scientific knowledge and that they have carefully considered and integrated the work of others into their research.

Here are some examples of how citations can show the breadth and depth of your research.

Citing a Wide Variety of Sources

By citing a wide range of sources, you show that you have comprehensively reviewed the literature extensively, which adds credibility to your work and demonstrates the depth of your understanding.

An extensive and diverse list of references can strengthen not only your argument but also highlight your commitment to thorough research.

For example, if you are writing a paper on the effects of social media on mental health, you might cite studies from psychology, sociology, and communication studies, as well as articles from the popular press and online forums.

By including these various sources, you will create a rich tapestry of perspectives that will enhance the overall quality of your paper.

In addition, this multidisciplinary approach will allow you to identify trends and patterns in the literature, which can lead to a more accurate and nuanced understanding of your research topic.

Citing Primary Sources

When you cite primary sources, such as original research studies, you show that you have sought the source of information and not simply relied on secondary sources, such as review articles or textbooks. 

For example, if you are writing a paper on the effects of a particular drug on a disease, primary sources include the original clinical trials that studied the drug. These sources provide first-hand evidence because they report directly on the research results of the scientists involved in the study.

On the other hand, secondary sources, such as review articles or textbook summaries, analyze, interpret, or summarize information from primary sources. Although these sources can provide valuable insights, they do not provide direct evidence from the original research.

To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the drug’s effects, it is best to cite the original clinical trial (primary source) in your paper rather than relying solely on review articles or textbook summaries (secondary sources). This way, you can present your readers with the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Citing Recent Sources

By citing the most recent sources, you show that you are up to date on the latest research and have studied the latest developments in the field. This practice not only strengthens your argument but also demonstrates your commitment to staying informed and relevant in your field.

For example, if you are writing a paper on climate change, you might cite studies published in the last year or two rather than relying solely on older sources.

Including recent research helps paint an accurate picture of the current state of climate change and ensures that your paper reflects the most up-to-date understanding of the topic, making it more valuable to readers seeking the latest information.

Citing Opposing Views

By citing sources that represent views different from your own, you show that you have considered different perspectives on the topic and grappled with the issue’s complexity. 

For example, if you are writing a paper on the benefits of a vegetarian diet, you might cite studies that point to the health benefits of eating meat, as well as studies that advocate a vegetarian diet. 

This shows that you have considered a range of arguments and made a nuanced assessment of the evidence.

Citations are a crucial aspect of scholarly writing and play an important role in demonstrating the authenticity of a scholarly work. They testify to the researcher’s engagement with the subject and highlight their ability to analyze and synthesize different points of view. 

A well-developed citation list shows the scope and depth of the research conducted and presents the author as a competent authority in the field.

To Show Respect for Intellectual Property

If we use another person’s work without giving it proper credit, it is a violation of their intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights give authors the exclusive right to determine how their work is used and disseminated. 

When we fail to credit sources, we essentially take someone else’s work and use it without permission.

Not only is this ethically wrong, but it can have legal consequences. In some cases, failure to cite sources can lead to copyright infringement, lawsuits, and damages. It also undermines the value of intellectual property rights and discourages innovation and creativity.

IPR, or Intellectual Property Rights, refers to the legal rights that protect the creations, inventions, and innovations of individuals or organizations. It is important to cite sources correctly to avoid IPR infringement, as this shows respect for the work of others, promotes ethical research practices, and upholds principles of academic integrity.

Here are a few examples of how citing sources demonstrates respect for the work of others.

Honoring the Author’s Expertise

When we cite sources in our work, we essentially acknowledge the contributions of other researchers and scholars in the field. In this way, we show our respect for their expertise and acknowledge their authority in the field.

Citing sources shows that we recognize the value of their work and are aware of their intellectual contributions to the field. This shows that we value their knowledge and experience and recognize the importance of their work.

Showing Appreciation for Diverse Perspectives

Citing sources from various authors and disciplines is an important aspect of academic writing that demonstrates respect for diverse perspectives and recognizes the contributions of individuals from different backgrounds and disciplines. This practice enriches the quality of your work and ensures a well-rounded analysis of the topic at hand.

For example, let’s say you are researching the impact of social media on political activism. You can develop a more comprehensive understanding of the topic by citing sources from political science, sociology, communication studies, and even psychology.

These multiple perspectives can help you identify connections and trends that may not be apparent when examining the subject from a single discipline.

By citing sources from different authors and disciplines, you demonstrate that you respect the value of diversity of thought and recognize the importance of engaging with different perspectives.

This approach also encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, recognizes the contributions of scholars from different fields, and helps create a sense of intellectual community that promotes the exchange of ideas across disciplines.

Promoting Transparency and Accountability

Proper citation is an essential aspect of academic writing that promotes transparency and accountability by allowing readers to understand the sources of our claims and arguments. 

By providing clear and accurate citations, we show respect to our readers and allow them to assess the validity and reliability of our work.

Citations serve as a roadmap for readers, providing them with a clear path to the sources of our claims and arguments. This allows readers to understand how we came to our conclusions and to evaluate the evidence and arguments underlying our work. 

This transparency helps build trust with our readers and demonstrates our commitment to honesty and accuracy in our science.

Supporting Academic Rigor

Proper citation is an essential component of academic writing that supports academic rigor by ensuring that our work is based on credible sources and that we are held accountable for the accuracy of our claims. 

This demonstrates that we respect the principles of academic scholarship and promote a culture of high standards in the academic community.

Citing sources allows us to ensure that we are using credible and authoritative sources in our work. This is important because academic scholarship builds on the work of others, and the use of credible sources is essential to the validity and reliability of our research. 

Proper citation helps establish a clear line of ideas and evidence and shows that our work is based on sound research and scholarship.

Demonstrating Humility

Citing sources in scholarly work demonstrates humility and respect for the intellectual contributions of others, recognizing that our work builds on the foundations laid by previous researchers and scholars.

Related: 105 Best Humility Quotes and Sayings

By citing these sources, we acknowledge that the ideas and insights presented in our work are not exclusively our own but rather part of a cumulative body of knowledge.

This approach highlights the value of prior research and places our work in the context of a larger intellectual community.

Embracing humility is an essential aspect of academic scholarship, as it fosters a sense of belonging to a broader discussion in the field and encourages the continued advancement of knowledge.

Overall, citing sources is an essential way of showing respect for the work of others. By giving credit where credit is due, demonstrating a commitment to accuracy, encouraging further research and discovery, and fostering collaboration and community, writers can ensure that their work is both credible and respectful of the ideas and insights of others.

To Ensure Accuracy

Citations are an essential part of any academic or research paper, as they play a critical role in ensuring the accuracy of the information presented. By citing sources, authors can clearly prove their points, bolster their credibility, and avoid plagiarism.

Below are some detailed examples of how citing sources can prevent misunderstanding or misinterpretation of information.

Preventing Misattributed Information

By citing sources, authors can avoid falsely attributing information to the wrong person or organization. For example, if an author claims that Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” citing a reliable source, such as a book, interview, or lecture by Einstein, can prevent confusion or misattribution of the quote.

Providing Context for Information

Citing sources can also provide context for the information presented in the paper. For example, if an author claims that global temperature has increased by 1 degree Celsius over the past century, citing the source of the data, such as a scientific report or government website, can clarify the context of the statement and help readers understand the significance and reliability of the information.

Avoiding Misinterpretation of Data

Citing sources can also prevent misinterpretation of data. For example, if an author claims that a study found a significant correlation between two variables, citing the study’s source and explaining the research’s methodology and limitations prevent readers from making incorrect assumptions or drawing invalid conclusions.

To Maintain Academic Integrity 

Citing sources is an important aspect of academic integrity and refers to citing the authors or sources you have referenced in your work. 

Academic institutions and organizations consider citation an essential component of ethical and responsible research and written work, which is reflected in several ways. Here are some detailed examples.

Plagiarism Policies

Most academic institutions and organizations have plagiarism policies that explicitly state the consequences of plagiarism and emphasize the importance of proper citation. 

These policies promote academic integrity and ensure students and researchers understand the value of citing sources. In some cases, the consequences of plagiarism can be severe, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment.

Publication Requirements

Many scientific journals and publishers require their authors to cite all relevant sources in their work. This is to ensure that the information contained in the publication is accurate, complete, and transparent. 

It also acknowledges the authors whose work has been referenced and allows readers to research the sources further.

Academic Conventions

Standardized citation styles are widely used in academic writing, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago. These styles provide guidelines for citing sources, such as the format of in-text citations and the reference list, to ensure consistency and accuracy. 

Adherence to these conventions helps ensure that the information presented in the paper is credible, transparent, and consistent with the standards of the academic community.

Intellectual Property Laws

Intellectual property laws protect the rights of authors and creators and prohibit unauthorized use of their works. Citing sources is one way to show respect for intellectual property and avoid violating the rights of others. 

By citing sources, authors also show that they have done proper research and that their work is based on a solid foundation of existing knowledge.

In academic writing, giving references is crucial to maintaining academic integrity. It is a fundamental aspect of ethical and responsible research and writing.

Academic institutions and organizations recognize the importance of citation and have established various guidelines, requirements, and conventions to encourage proper citation. 

By citing sources, authors demonstrate their commitment to intellectual honesty, respect for the rights of others, and the advancement of knowledge. 

Different Citation Styles

Citation styles play an important role in academic writing. They provide a standardized way to cite sources used in a text and allow readers to find and verify the information presented easily. 

Here is an overview of common citation styles, including their uses and examples of common sources:

APA Style

The American Psychological Association citation style (APA) is a widely used format for academic papers, especially in the social sciences. The guidelines provide a clear and standardized method for citing sources in academic papers and ensure that authors give proper credit to the ideas and work of others.

Here are some key aspects of the APA citation style, along with examples of how to cite common types of sources:

In-text Citations

APA style uses parenthetical author-date citations, which appear within the text of the paper. They provide the reader with enough information to locate the full citation in the reference list at the end of the paper. 

For example:

  • (Smith, 2019) for a book by Smith published in 2019
  • (Jones & Lee, 2020) for an article by Jones and Lee published in 2020
  • (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2018) for a report by the NIMH published in 2018

Reference List

APA style requires a reference list at the end of the paper, which provides full bibliographic information for each source cited in the text. The list is arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name. For example:

  • Book: Smith, J. (2019). The psychology of happiness. Routledge.
  • Article: Jones, L., and Lee, K. (2020). The effects of social media on self-esteem. Journal of Social Psychology, 160(2), 127-135.
  • Website: National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Depression. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml


APA style has specific guidelines for formatting the paper itself, including margins, font size, style, spacing, and heading levels. It also requires a title page with the title of the paper, the author’s name, and affiliation.

Some other common types of sources and how to cite them in APA style include:

  • Journal article with DOI: Smith, P. M., and Garcia, M. (2018). Sleep and well-being among college students: The role of stress. Journal of American College Health, 66(4), 248-255. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2018.1425175
  • Newspaper article: Brown, J. (2021, February 15). Study finds link between screen time and depression in teens. The Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/15/screen-time-depression-teens/

The APA citation style is a widely used and established format for citing sources in scientific papers. It provides clear and standardized guidelines for in-text citations and reference lists while specifying formatting requirements for the paper itself. 

By following these guidelines, authors can ensure that their work is cited correctly and avoid accusations of plagiarism.

MLA Style

The Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style is a widely used referencing system in academic writing, especially in the humanities. It is important to use proper citation style to give credit to sources and avoid plagiarism. In this article, we will provide a detailed explanation of the MLA citation style, including the format for common types of sources.

The MLA citation style uses in-text citations corresponding to a list of works cited at the end of the document. 

In-text citations are short references in parentheses that include the author’s last name and the page number where the information was found. The works cited list includes complete information about each source used in the paper.

Here are some examples of common types of sources and the corresponding citation format in MLA.


  • One author: Last name, First name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
  • Two or more authors: Last name, First name and First name Last name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
  • Edited book: Last name, First name, editor. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
  • Chapter in an edited book: Last name, First name. “Title of Chapter.” Title of Book, edited by Editor’s Name, Publisher, Year, page range.


  • Journal article: Last name, First name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, vol. number, no. number, year, page range, URL.
  • Magazine article: Last name, First name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine, day month year, page range.
  • Newspaper article: Last name, First name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper, day month year, URL.


  • Website article: Last name, First name. “Title of Article.” Title of Website, Publisher (if different from website title), day month year (if available), URL.
  • Blog post: Last name, First name. “Title of Post.” Title of Blog, Publisher (if different from website title), day month year, URL.

It is important to note that the citation style may vary depending on the source type and the details available. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers for complete guidelines and examples.

The MLA citation style is crucial in academic writing because it uses in-text citations and a list of works cited to acknowledge sources and avoid plagiarism. Following the guidelines is important to ensure that your academic work meets the required standards.

Chicago Style

​Chicago citation style, also known as the Chicago Manual of Style, is a referencing system widely used in academia. This style is commonly used in the fields of history, literature, and art. It is known for its flexibility, allowing authors to cite a variety of sources, including books, articles, and websites. Here is a detailed explanation of the Chicago citation style.

In-Text Citations

Chicago citation style uses in-text citations to acknowledge sources within the text. The format for in-text citations includes the author’s last name, the publication year, and the page number(s) where the information was found. 

If you mention the author’s name in the text, you only need to include the publication year and page number(s) in parentheses. For example:

  • (Smith 2010, 23)
  • According to Smith (2010, 23),…


When citing a book in the Chicago style, the general format is as follows:

  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year.

Some examples include:

  • Smith, John. The History of the World. New York: Penguin, 2009.
  • Johnson, Robert. Statistics in Medicine. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.


When citing an article, the general format is as follows:

  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal Volume number, no. (Year of publication): page numbers.

Some examples include:

  • Johnson, Robert A. “The Use of Statistics in Medical Research.” New England Journal of Medicine 368, no. 4 (2013): 345-352.
  • Smith, John. “The Impact of History on Society.” History Today 59, no. 3 (2009): 28-32.


When citing a website, the general format is as follows:

  • Author’s Last Name, First Name (if available). “Title of Webpage.” Title of Website. Publication date (if available). URL.

Some examples include:

  • Smith, John. “The Rise of Social Media.” The Guardian. March 1, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/01/the-rise-of-social-media.
  • Website with no publication date: “Chicago Manual of Style.” The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html.

Chicago citation style is a widely used referencing system used in academic papers to cite sources transparently and concisely. It is important to follow the guidelines for in-text citations and bibliography so readers can easily locate sources. 

With its efficient approach to citing books, articles, or websites, the Chicago citation style provides a reliable way to document sources and credit the original author. As a result, it is a valuable tool for scholars and students alike.

IEEE Style

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) citation style is a popular method for citing sources in technical fields such as engineering, computer science, and technology. 

As a numeric citation style, it assigns a unique number to each source in the order it appears in the text and does not use author or date information. 

This style provides a clear and concise way to reference research papers and create a bibliography.


When citing a book in the IEEE citation style, follow these guidelines:

For a book with one author: Include the author’s name, book title, edition (if applicable), publisher, year of publication, and page number(s) cited. 

  • For example: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 1st ed. Scholastic, 1997, pp. 30-50.

For a book with multiple authors: List all authors in the order they appear on the title page, separate them by commas, and use the word “and” before the last author’s name. Include the book title, edition (if applicable), publisher, year of publication, and page number(s) cited. 

  • For example: N. Nisan, T. Roughgarden, E. Tardos, and V. Vazirani, Algorithmic Game Theory, 1st ed. Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 25-40.


When citing an article from a journal or magazine, use the following format:

For a journal article: Include the author’s name, article title, journal name, volume and issue numbers, year of publication, and page number(s) cited. 

  • For example: A. Einstein, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” Annalen der Physik, vol. 17, no. 10, 1905, pp. 891-921.

For a magazine article: Include the author’s name, magazine title, magazine name, volume and issue numbers (if applicable), publication date, and page number(s) cited. 

  • For example: J. Doe, “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse,” Popular Mechanics, vol. 191, no. 4, Apr. 2014, pp. 42-48.


When citing a website in the IEEE citation style, it is important to provide as much information as possible about the source, such as the author, title of the page or article, website name, URL, and date accessed. 

  • For example: L. Simon, “How to Build a Robot,” Robotics Online. http://www.roboticsonline.com/articles/view/how-to-build-a-robot. (Accessed: Feb. 20, 2023).

By using the IEEE citation style, authors can effectively cite and reference sources in technical fields and provide the reader with clear and accurate information about the sources used in their work.

Harvard Style

The Harvard citation is one of academia’s most popular citation styles, especially in the social sciences. It is widely known for its simplicity, flexibility, and versatility, making it a preferred citation style for scholars and researchers worldwide. 

In this article, we will explain the Harvard citation style in detail, including its basic format and some examples of common source types.

Basic Format

The Harvard citation style follows a simple and straightforward format that involves citing the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses within the body of the text.

The full citation for the source is then included in a separate reference list at the end of the document. The reference list is arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name and includes the full citation details for each source cited in the document.

Examples of Common Types of Sources:


  • One author: Smith, J. (2019). The Art of Writing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Two authors: Johnson, M. and  Williams, S. (2020). The Psychology of Learning. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Edited book: Williams, S. (Ed.). (2018). The Science of Teaching. London, UK: Sage Publications.

Journal Articles

  • One author: Brown, D. (2017). The Impact of Technology on Education. Educational Technology Research and Development, 65(4), 875-890.
  • Two authors: Smith, J., & Jones, P. (2019). The Relationship between Parental Involvement and Academic Achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(3), 600-615.


  • Government website: National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Anxiety Disorders. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml (Accessed: 20 July 2019).
  • Non-profit website: World Wildlife Fund. (2017). Saving Endangered Species. Available at: https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/saving-endangered-species (Accessed: 24 January 2021).
  • News article: Smith, J. (2020, September 1). COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Show Promising Results. CNN. Available at: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/01/health/covid-vaccine-trials-results/index.html (Accessed: 26 November 2022).

​Harvard citation style is a widely accepted and effective approach to citing sources in scholarly works. Its simple and straightforward format allows for accurate citation of a wide variety of sources, including books, journal articles, and online resources. 

When researchers and scholars master the Harvard citation style, they can ensure the credibility of their work by properly labeling their sources. Mastering the Harvard citation style is essential for any academic writer who wants to produce a well-researched and reliable paper.

AMA Style

When it comes to academic writing, citing sources is an important component. The American Medical Association citation style (AMA) is commonly used in the medical field. 

In this article, we will look at the details of the AMA citation style, including examples of common source types and the proper way to format them.

The AMA citation style is a numeric citation style, which means that sources are cited in the order in which they appear in the text. Each citation is assigned a unique number, which is then used to refer to the source throughout the paper.

Here are examples of common types of sources in AMA citation style.


  • Single author: Smith J. Biology. New York: Random House; 2010.
  • Multiple authors: Johnson S, Patel K, Lee T. An Introduction to Chemistry. Boston: Pearson; 2018.
  • Edited book: Jones P, ed. Immunology. New York: Springer; 2015.


  • Online journal article: Li Z, Qin W, Patel V. Associations of parental depression during adolescence with cognitive development in later life in China: A population-based cohort study. Jones PB, ed. PLOS Medicine. 2021;18(1):e1003464. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003464
  • Newspaper article: Johnson M. New study finds link between diet and cancer. New York Times. March 1, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/well/eat/diet-cancer-risk-study.html


  • Web page: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/index.htm.
  • Online report: World Health Organization. Global Tuberculosis Report 2021. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240022316. Accessed February 1, 2023.
  • Blog post: Smith J. The benefits of a plant-based diet. Harvard Health Blog. 2019 Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-benefits-of-a-plant-based-diet-2019022516070. Accessed October 25, 2022.

In the citation AMA, the citation format varies depending on the source type. In general, however, each citation includes the author’s name, the title of the source, the publication details, and the publication date. It is also important that the citation include the page number(s) or section(s) referenced.

The AMA citation style is a widely used citation format in the medical field. A thorough understanding of the proper way to cite sources is essential to write a high-quality scientific paper. 

By following the instructions outlined in this article, you can be confident that you will be able to apply the AMA citation style when writing your paper expertly.

Vancouver Style

For citing sources in academic papers, several citation styles can be used. One of these is the Vancouver citation style, used primarily in medicine and other health sciences. In this style, sources are cited with numbers in the text corresponding to a bibliography at the end of the document.

The Vancouver citation style can be used for various types of sources, including:


When citing a book, include the author’s name (or editor’s name, if applicable), the book title, edition number (if applicable), place of publication, publisher, and year of publication. For example:

  • Smith J. An Introduction to Medicine. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill; 2015.
  • Adams R, Brown T, Davis K. Nursing Practice: The Essentials. London: Sage; 2018.

Journal articles

When citing a journal article, include the author’s name, article title, journal title, year of publication, volume number, issue number (if applicable), and page numbers. For example:

  • Johnson L, Davis M, Smith K. The Effects of Exercise on Mental Health. J Health Psychol. 2019; 24(3): 345-354.
  • Kim S, Lee J, Park H. The Impact of Diet on Cardiovascular Health. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2020; 27(1): 12-18.

Overall, the Vancouver citation style is a straightforward and effective method for citing sources in the field of medicine and other health sciences. By using this style, authors can ensure that their sources are properly cited and that their work is academically sound.

The use of common citation styles such as APA, MLA, Chicago, IEEE, Harvard, AMA, and Vancouver are essential to academic writing. Accurate and professional academic writing requires knowledge of these citation styles’ specific rules and guidelines. 

In addition, it is important to recognize that different citation styles are appropriate for different disciplines and subject areas. 

By adhering to the appropriate citation style and citing all sources used in their work, students and researchers can contribute to the broader academic discourse in their respective fields. 

This practice results in reliable and accurate work and makes it easily accessible to others in the academic community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a citation and a reference?

A citation is a brief mention of a source within the text of a work, while a reference is a more detailed description of the source included in a reference list or bibliography at the end of the work.

The citation usually includes the author’s name and the year of publication, while the reference includes more detailed information such as the title, publisher, and page numbers.

What if I can’t find all the information I need to cite a source?

Sometimes, it may be difficult to find all the information you need to cite a source, such as the publication date or the page numbers.

In this case, try to provide as much information as you can and make a note that some information is missing. You can also try contacting the author or publisher for more information.

If you are still unable to find the information, you may need to use a different source.

Can I cite sources from Wikipedia?

Using Wikipedia as a source for scientific papers is generally not recommended.

While Wikipedia can be a good starting point for research and provide useful background information, it is not considered a reliable source due to its open editing policy and lack of editorial control.

However, you can use the sources cited in a Wikipedia article as a starting point for your research.

Can I cite sources that are not in English?

Yes, you can cite sources that are not in English, but you should also provide a translation of the title of the work in brackets.

If you cite a quotation, you should also include a translation of the citation. Refer to the citation guidelines for proper formatting of non-English citations.

Can I cite sources from social media?

Yes, you can cite sources from social media, but you should make sure that the sources are credible and reliable.

When citing sources from social media, including the author, title, date of publication, and the platform or website where the source was found, be sure to evaluate the credibility of the source and author before citing the source.

Do I need to cite common knowledge?

No, you do not have to cite common knowledge in your paper.

Common knowledge refers to widely known and accepted information, such as historical facts or basic scientific principles. However, what constitutes common knowledge can vary depending on your field of study.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to check with your instructor or consult your style guide to determine what needs to be cited.

Do I need to cite sources in a speech or presentation?

Yes, citing sources in a speech or presentation is still important. The same rules apply as in academic writing, i.e., you should cite sources whenever you use the ideas, words, or results of others.

This can be done verbally by citing the information as a source during the presentation or by including a reference list at the end of the presentation.


Citing sources is critical to the accuracy and integrity of your work. Without proper citations, you risk undermining the validity of your work and facing serious consequences in academic and professional settings.

By citing your sources, you demonstrate that you have done your due diligence in researching the topic and analyzing the available information. Doing so ensures that your work is original, well-researched, and respected in your field. 

So let us acknowledge the importance of citing sources and take pride in producing an honest, thorough, and original work.

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Kyna is a writer and aspiring doctor. Besides writing, she likes discovering new music, immersing herself in interactive books, and engaging in multiplayer shooter games. She is passionate about chemistry, human biology, and pharmacology, and is always eager to learn more about these subjects.